Author Archives: petermcdowell

About petermcdowell

I am a Performing Arts Management Consultant.

Feb 4: Premiere of Music/Words in LA

MUSIC/WORDS, the acclaimed music-poetry series (NY, Chicago and LA), invites the audience to be moved by free associations, interplay of moods, genres and different mediums in its 6th season.

Faliks-PavlovaInna Faliks, left; Vera Pavlova, right

The next Music/Words will be held in Royce Hall Rehearsal Studio, Los Angeles on February 4th, 8pm and explores Tchaikovsky and Schumann. Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young is a cycle of simple yet profoundly beautiful pieces that poet Vera Pavlova has turned into poems. Schumann’s Davidsbundler opus 6 is one of the masterpices of Romantic piano works. A series of 18 short pieces, it invites poetric collaboration. Tonight’s performance, produced by CAP (Center for the Art of Performance), is an imagined dialogue between Clara Schumann and Robert Schumann, between poetry and music. Vera Pavlova and Inna Faliks have appeared in Music/Words together repeatedly, in NYC and in Chicago, in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation.

Celebrated pianist Inna Faliks is the founder and curator of the award-winning interdisciplinary series Music/Words, which explores the connections between poetry and music. She is joined by Vera Pavlova, one of Russia’s most important contemporary poets, whose first poetry collection in English, If There Is Something to Desire, was a bestselling title in 2010. Faliks will perform works by Chopin.

In this performance, Vera Pavlova’s passionate, sensuous poetry, with English translations, will intersect with selections of Frederic Chopin, including the Sonata # 2 in B flat minor. Music/Words has been featured in regular live broadcasts on WFMT Radio in Chicago, in collaboration with Poetry Foundation, at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, and at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The series MUSIC/WORDS was recently praised by Lucid Culture as being “surreal, impactful, and relevant” and was described as “a throwback to the Paris salons of the late 1800s.” It celebrates links between poetry and music by presenting collaborations between exciting solo performers and acclaimed contemporary poets in the form of a live recital/reading. Music/Words partnerships have included some of the most celebrated American poets.

Inna Faliks created the series in order to foster a chance for poets and musicians to work together and inspire each other, as well as to allow different audiences to come together for these musical-literary events. New published and unpublished works are read alongside performances of music old and new and connected by content, intuition, and inspiration.

According to Faliks, “I pair performers together based on their personalities and styles, and encourage them to choose the poems and music in varied ways that are strongly and intuitively connected.”

Pianist Inna Faliks has set herself apart in thousands of performances as a sincere, communicative and direct performer whose virtuosity, power and risk taking serve the depth, intelligance and poetry of her interpretations. Inna’s command of standard solo and concerto repertoire is highlighted by her love of rare and new music, and interdisciplinary and audience-involving programs and lectures. These include her award winning Music/Words, where she alternates music with readings by contemporary poets, her program of piano music of the poet Boris Pasternak (on MSR Classics Sound of Verse, which drew comparisons to Argerich and Cliburn), 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg – new variations on Bach’s Aria , music of women composers, and many other programs. She makes sure to present programs that include both beloved crowd pleasers and music that is new and challenging, creating an adventurous, moving and involving experience for the audience. She is a musical omnivore. Faliks debuted as a teenager with the Chicago Symphony and at the Gilmore Festival to rave reviews, and has been exciting and moving audiences worldwide since then. She is Associate Professor of Piano at UCLA, and her new Beethoven disc on the MSR Classics label has just been released. www.innafaliks.com

Please visit www.verapavlova.us for poet bio.

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Music/Words at Brooklyn Public Library

MUSIC/WORDS, the acclaimed music-poetry series (NY, Chicago and LA), invites the audience to be moved by free associations, interplay of moods, genres and different mediums in its 6th season.

Faliks-PavlovaInna Faliks, left; Vera Pavlova, right

Brooklyn, NY – Pianist Inna Faliks, with poet Vera Pavlova, appear in Music/Words: Chopin edition on Sunday October 27th, 2013 at 4 pm at the Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY. Admission is Free. For more information, call (312) 787-7070.

Celebrated pianist Inna Faliks is the founder and curator of the award-winning interdisciplinary series Music/Words, which explores the connections between poetry and music. She is joined by Vera Pavlova, one of Russia’s most important contemporary poets, whose first poetry collection in English, If There Is Something to Desire, was a bestselling title in 2010. Faliks will perform works by Chopin.

In this performance, Vera Pavlova’s passionate, sensuous poetry, with English translations, will intersect with selections of Frederic Chopin, including the Sonata # 2 in B flat minor. Music/Words has been featured in regular live broadcasts on WFMT Radio in Chicago, in collaboration with Poetry Foundation, at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, and at UCLA in Los Angeles.

The series MUSIC/WORDS was recently praised by Lucid Culture as being “surreal, impactful, and relevant” and was described as “a throwback to the Paris salons of the late 1800s.” It celebrates links between poetry and music by presenting collaborations between exciting solo performers and acclaimed contemporary poets in the form of a live recital/reading. Music/Words partnerships have included some of the most celebrated American poets.

Inna Faliks created the series in order to foster a chance for poets and musicians to work together and inspire each other, as well as to allow different audiences to come together for these musical-literary events. New published and unpublished works are read alongside performances of music old and new and connected by content, intuition, and inspiration.

According to Faliks, “I pair performers together based on their personalities and styles, and encourage them to choose the poems and music in varied ways that are strongly and intuitively connected.”

Pianist Inna Faliks has set herself apart in thousands of performances as a sincere, communicative and direct performer whose virtuosity, power and risk taking serve the depth, intelligance and poetry of her interpretations. Inna’s command of standard solo and concerto repertoire is highlighted by her love of rare and new music, and interdisciplinary and audience-involving programs and lectures. These include her award winning Music/Words, where she alternates music with readings by contemporary poets, her program of piano music of the poet Boris Pasternak (on MSR Classics Sound of Verse, which drew comparisons to Argerich and Cliburn), 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg – new variations on Bach’s Aria , music of women composers, and many other programs. She makes sure to present programs that include both beloved crowd pleasers and music that is new and challenging, creating an adventurous, moving and involving experience for the audience. She is a musical omnivore. Faliks debuted as a teenager with the Chicago Symphony and at the Gilmore Festival to rave reviews, and has been exciting and moving audiences worldwide since then. She is Associate Professor of Piano at UCLA, and her new Beethoven disc on the MSR Classics label has just been released. www.innafaliks.com

Please visit www.verapavlova.us for poet bio.

Music/Words on WFMT for Poetry Month

InnaFaliks-200x300Pianist Inna Faliks appears on April 8th and 15th as part of Music/Words during National Poetry Month on 98.7 WFMT-FM Chicago.

April 8 will feature a broadcast of October 2012’s concert with Chicago’s Poetry Foundation. Faliks was joined by Valzhyna Mort, winner of Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize and the author of Factory of Tears and Collected Body, as well as Vera Pavlova, whose first poetry collection in English, If There Is Something to Desire, was a bestselling title in 2010. Works by Gubaidulina, Tchaikovsky, Lera Auerbach, Shchedrin, and Schumann were performed by Faliks.

April 15 will feature Faliks with a poet to be announced.

Called “adventurous” and “passionate” by The New Yorker, Ukrainian-born, New York City based pianist Inna Faliks (www.innafaliks.com) has established herself as one of the most passionately committed, exciting and poetic artists of her generation. After acclaimed her teenage debuts at the Gilmore Festival and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she has performed on many of the world’s great stages, with numerous orchestras, in solo appearances, and with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Keith Lockhart. She recently appeared alongside British actress Lesley Nicol (“Mrs. Patmore” from Downton Abbey) in Nigel Hess’s production of Admission: One Shilling.

ChicagoMusic.org review of Inna in ADMISSION: ONE SHILLING

‘ONE SHILLING’ LOVELY MEMORY OF IMPRESSIVE MYRA HESS

By Margaret Sutherlin; Posted on: 01/31/13 in ChicagoMusic.org

Sitting under the Tiffany glass dome in the Chicago Cultural Center on Tuesday evening, it was hard to remember we were in fact an audience in Chicago, and not at the National Gallery of London listening to pianist Myra Hess.

As a part of the 35th anniversary of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts in Chicago, the International Music Foundation sponsored the U.S premiere of Admission: One Shilling.

Originally conceived and written by Hess’s great-nephew Nigel Hess, the play retells the story of the lunchtime concerts Myra Hess organized daily at the National Gallery in London during World War II. On stage as Hess’s musical voice was Inna Faliks, who grew up on the North Shore, and hit television show Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol, Hess’s historical voice.

Faliks performance was so subtlely impressive. Marked from the first moment she walked out on stage, to her final bow, her performance was so graceful and effortless. She is one of the few pianists I have known who can command such attention with her quietly powerful performance.

It was clear to me through her poised and beautiful performance that Faliks understood Dame Myra Hess well, and that the production held particularly special meaning for her. Not only because she grew up performing in the Chicago series, but because she also so deeply is attuned to and appreciates art forms that interact, evidenced by her award-winning Music/Words series that combines poetry and music.

Lesley Nicol, fondly known to many of us as Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, couldn’t have been more delightful as Myra’s historical persona. Nicol’s overall warmth just entering the room and the great bits of wry humor of the play itself, were perfect to capture audience attention right away and retell not just Myra’s story from the Blitz, but London’s story too.

One of the things I most enjoyed from Nicol was her ability to simply connect so well with the music, and with Inna. Nicol’s experience from the stage (she played Rosie in the West End production of Mamma Mia, among other performances) made her a particularly good choice to connect with the production. The musical voice and the historical voice blended so seamlessly that time was easily forgotten during the performance and suddenly we’d reached the end of the war, Myra’s famous concerts, and the enchanting Admission: One Shilling.

After leaving, another writer and I were discussing how lovely the evening was, and how we wished that the performance wasn’t just for one night. The story of Myra Hess is not all that well known, but timeless and validating for the world we live in now, and I hoped more people could have encountered it. When things were falling apart at the seams, Hess knew music brought people together in a way that nothing else could. It’s a lesson that holds as much relevance in the nearly 75 years after World War II as it did then.

Original review

2013 Season Update

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The NYC season of Music/Words will pick up in the fall of 2013. Meanwhile – I am thrilled to be introducing Music/Words to the UCLA community and involving my own students!  On March 11, the students and faculty of the Slavic Studies department will read original poetry and translations, and 6 students from my studio will perform selections between the pieces. Popper Auditorium, Schoenberg Music Building, UCLA. 6 pm. 

Poetry Off the Shelf: Chicago, October 22


Inna joins poets Valzhyna Mort and Vera Pavlova in Music/Words: Poetry off the Shelf, presented by the Poetry Foundation and the PianoForte Foundation, on Monday, October 22, 7 pm at Curtiss Hall in the Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL. Admission is free. For more information, call (312) 787-7070.

Celebrated pianist Inna Faliks is joined by Valzhyna Mort, winner of Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize and the author of Factory of Tears and Collected Body, as well as Vera Pavlova, whose first poetry collection in English, If There Is Something to Desire, was a bestselling title in 2010. Faliks will perform works by Gubaidulina, Tchaikovsky, Lera Auerbach, Shchedrin, and Schumann.

Co-sponsored by the PianoForte Foundation and the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute.

New Season Opener Announced

I am very excited about the Music/Words 5th Season opening on September 23rd, at 7:30 pm at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge (tickets here). This performance at LPR includes the world premiere of the powerful song cycle for baritone and piano by John Eaton, “Songs of Nature and Beyond”, with the wonderful baritone David Adam Moore. I will play Beethoven’s Sonata in c minor, and also Fantasia on an Ostinato by John Corigliano. This poetic shimmering piece uses Beethoven’s Ostinato from the 7th Symphony, and explores its rhythmic and harmonic elements in a hypnotic, colorful fantasy. It serves as the link between Eaton and Beethoven sound worlds.

The Barnard Women Poets Prize winning poet Sandra Beasley‘s poetry will be read by the author in between the pieces. The Eaton song cycle is set to the poetry by Auden, Blackmur, Wallace Stevens, and W.B Yeats, and Sandra’s lucid and fresh voice completes the link between then and now.

The following Music/Words performance is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, and takes place at Curtiss Hall, 410 South Michigan Ave. in Chicago, on October 22nd.  It includes readings by poets Vera Pavlova and Valzhyna Mort.

Sequenza21.com Review: “A Night of Words and Music at Cornelia Street Cafe”

Written by Kyle Lynch

“Last Sunday evening, pianist Inna Faliks closed the fourth season of her Music/Words series at the West Village institution, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City. It was an intimate affair in the Café’s cozy basement theatre, and Inna was joined by soprano Samatha Malk, Brazilian pianist and singer Clarice Assad, and poet Irina Mashinski. The potpourri of solo piano, songs, and poetry readings hearkens back to old European salons of the turn of the century. Yet the evening was thoroughly enjoyable and modern…” READ FULL ARTICLE.

Next Music/Words: The Sensuousness of Spring, April 22

Music/Words continues its fourth season on Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 6:00 pm with a performance at New York’s Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Inna Faliks and guest Clarice Assad at the piano along with soprano Samantha Malk and poet Irina Mashinski. The program will explore the sensuousness of early Schoenberg (with the Stefan Georgy poetry used in the songs), along with the passion of Mashinski’s poetry and Assad’s Brazilian music. The program includes Schoenberg’s Drei Klavierstucke, opus 11; his songs from Book of Hanging Gardens; and various improvisations by Ms. Assad based on Brazilian piano music. The Cornelia Street Café (www.corneliastreetcafe.com) is located at 29 Cornelia Street, Greenwich Village, NYC. Tickets are $20 and are available by calling 212-989-9319.

In this performance, Ms. Mashinski will tailor her readings to Ms. Assad’s and Ms. Faliks’ musical selections, finding poems from her own works that connect with the music. Music/Words will be featured in regular live broadcasts throughout the month of April on WFMT Radio in Chicago.

Pianist Clarice Assad

Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “serious triple threat,” and “an arranger and orchestrator of great imagination” (SF Classical Voice), Clarice Assad (www.clariceassad.com) is making her mark in the music world as a pianist, arranger, as a vocalist and as a composer.  A versatile artist of musical depth and sophistication, her works have been published in France (Editions Lemoine), Germany (Trekel), and in the United States (Virtual Artists Collective Publishing), and have been performed in Europe, South America, the United States and Japan. Miss Assad’s music often have a thematic core, and explore the physical and psychological elements of the chosen story or concept. With a repertoire in continuous expansion, her works are sought out by musicians both in the classical and the jazz realms.

South African soprano Samantha Malk recently returned from a concert tour around China, Vietnam and Thailand.  At the end of 2010, she was thrilled to make her Weill Hall debut recital at Carnegie Hall.  During that summer, she finished her engagement as a young artist for the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Music Festival in Chicago.  In July 2010, the International Contemporary Ensemble invited Samantha as the guest soprano in a live broadcast on WQXR Classical Radio New York as well as a two-day music festival celebrating the music of Edgar Varèse at Alice Tully Hall.  Earlier that year, during an alumni residency, Samantha performed songs of Debussy and Schumann lieder at the Britten Pears Music Festival.  Her operatic roles include Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Nannetta in Falstaff, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro.  After immigrating to the United States, Samantha came to study music, earning her Bachelor of Music at Indiana University and her Master of Music at Manhattan School of Music.

Bilingual poet and translator Irina Mashinski has authored seven books of poetry in Russian, and her most recent collections are Volk (Wolf) and Raznochinets pervyi sneg i drugie stikhotvoreniia (Raznochinets First Snow and Other Poems). Her work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry International, Fulcrum, Zeek, The London Magazine, and An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women Poets. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming Anthology of Russian Poetry from Pushkin to Brodsky, as well as co-founder and co-editor of the Cardinal Points literary journal, published in the U.S. in English and Russian. She also serves on the editorial board for the NYC based translation project “Ars-Interpes.” Irina Mashinski is the winner of several literary awards, including the First Prizes at the Russian America (2001), Maximilian Voloshin (2003), and other poetry contests. Her poetry has been translated into English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Serbian.

Pianist Inna Faliks

Recently praised by Lucid Culture for “her signature blend of lithe grace and raw power,” Ukrainian-born, New York City based pianist Inna Faliks has established herself as one of the most passionately committed, exciting and poetic artists of her generation. After her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, she has performed on many of the world’s great stages, with numerous orchestras, in solo appearances, and with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Keith Lockhart. Critics praise her “courage to take risks, expressive intensity and technical perfection” (General Anzeiger, Bonn), “poetry and panoramic vision” (Washington Post), and “riveting passion, playfulness” (Baltimore Sun). Her CD on MSR Classics, “Sound of Verse”, was released in 2009.

Lucid Culture Review of Music/Words, February 2012

“Cross-Pollination at the Gershwin with Inna Faliks” from Lucid Culture:

Virtuoso pianist Inna Faliks’ latest installment of her innovative Music/Words series last night was a throwback to the Paris salons of the late 1800s, in the aptly lowlit atmosphere of the back room at the Gershwin Hotel. As she describes it, the concept of the series is to match music with poetry that shares a mood or evokes similar emotions, rather than referring to specific ideas or events. As an attempt to link two worlds that otherwise don’t usually intersect, it’s an admirable idea. Musically, this program was extremely diverse, spanning from classical to late Romantic, with Faliks pulling one of the obscurities she’s so fond of out of the woodwork as well. Lyrically, it was surreal, impactful, and relevant. Poet Tom Thompson doesn’t waste words: he finds the logic in cruel irony, assembles scenes vividly yet economically, and makes connections – like the commonalities in the desires of a child at play and a hungry spider – that might seem farfetched at face value but make perfect sense as he describes them (spiders got a lot of time this time out). “The lake is tired of being a mirror…it closes its one historical eye before we ever get to use it,” he observed bleakly. In an understatedly moving account of his son’s experience with seizures, Thompson coldly acknowledged how in one culture, people who suffer from them get killed, while in another they’re worshipped. A New York water tower became a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the dead leaves that get under the screws that hold it together; people and insects in Central Park shared a fate brought on by their inability to escape their desires. If insightfully ominous, loaded imagery is your thing, Thompson has a couple of collections out from alicejamesbooks that you should investigate.

The music was good too. In between trios of poems, Faliks alternated with pianist Dimitri Dover, who warmed up the performance with the Haydn’s uncharacteristically pensive Sonata in C Minor., Hob. 16:20. A bit later, he played three selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, the best being the anxiously stately “Montagues and Capulets” scene followed by Mercutio’s scampering cinematics. He joined Faliks for a perfectly synchronized four-handed take of another uncharacteristic piece, Liszt’s reflective, remarkably terse Symphonic Poem #4: Orpheus, eventually ending the show with three intuitive, energetic Debussy preludes and then a rather stern take on Chopin’s Scherzo No. 2, Op. 31.

Although the program put her on the bill lower than Dover and Thompson, Faliks was still the star of this show, playing with her signature blend of lithe grace and raw power, particularly as she made her way through the nocturnal scenes of Liszt’s Harmonies du Soir, and then the composer’s transcription of Paganini’s La Campanella, which she imbued with playful charm and then maintained it all the way through the dance’s knotty, rapidfire thicket of staccato. Her obscurity du jour turned out to be 20th century Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin’s Basso Ostinato, a fascinatingly biting, expansively acidic prelude that built from a walking bassline to echoes of Alban Berg and Vincent Persichetti. Faliks’ next program in the Music/Words series, on April 22 at 7:30 PM at the Cornelia Street Cafe with Brazilian pianist Clarice Assad and poet Irina Mashinski promises to be equally intriguing.